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Ireland squad update: A dozen players released back to their provinces

By Liam Heagney

Trending on RugbyPass

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Ireland have released a dozen players to their Guinness PRO14 provinces in the wake of their latest Six Nations defeat, Andy Farrell retaining just a 24-man panel for the two-day mini-camp on Thursday and Friday this week at the IRFU High Performance Centre at the Sport Ireland Campus.

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Farrell is attempting to pick up the pieces following the worst start to a championship by Ireland since 1998 when back-to-back defeats in the opening two rounds of the old Five Nations resulted in the departure of Brian Ashton and the appointment of Warren Gatland, who had been coaching Connacht at the time.

Ireland were beaten in recent Six Nations weeks by Wales (16-21) and France (13-15), heaping pressure on the rookie head coach Farrell whose record in charge now reads Played 11: W6 L5.

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Ireland boss Andy Farrell reacts to their latest defeat

Looking ahead to preparations for their February 27 match away to Italy, Ireland have opted to release a third of their squad back to the provinces to get in some game time before the Italian job. 

An IRFU statement read: “There were no additional injury concerns following the match against France and the players (Billy Burns, Cian Healy and Iain Henderson) who were removed for HIAs will follow the appropriate protocols this week.

“Twelve players are returning to their provincial bubbles to avail of game time in the Guinness PRO14 this weekend – Bundee Aki, Ultan Dillane, Dave Heffernan (Connacht), Ryan Baird, Ross Byrne, Jack Conan (Leinster), Craig Casey, Andrew Conway, Shane Daly, Chris Farrell (Munster) and Stuart McCloskey, Tom O’Toole (Ulster). The three players who provided specialist cover at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday – Harry Byrne, John Cooney and Eric O’Sullivan – have also returned to their respective provinces.”

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IRELAND SQUAD (2-day camp, February 17/18)
BACKS:
Billy Burns (Ulster) 5 caps
Keith Earls (Munster/Young Munster) 90 caps
Jamison Gibson-Park (Leinster) 7 caps
Robbie Henshaw (Leinster/Buccaneers) 49 caps
Hugo Keenan (Leinster/UCD) 8 caps
Jordan Larmour (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 26 caps
James Lowe (Leinster) 4 caps
Conor Murray (Munster/Garryowen) 88 caps
Garry Ringrose (Leinster/UCD) 32 caps
Jonathan Sexton (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 96 caps

Forwards:
Tadhg Beirne (Munster/Lansdowne) 19 caps
Ed Byrne (Leinster/UCD) 4 caps
Will Connors (Leinster/UCD) 7 caps
Tadhg Furlong (Leinster/Clontarf) 46 caps
Cian Healy (Leinster/Clontarf) 106 caps
Iain Henderson (Ulster/Academy) 60 caps
Rob Herring (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 18 caps
Ronan Kelleher (Leinster/Lansdowne) 8 caps
Dave Kilcoyne (Munster/UL Bohemians) 40 caps
Andrew Porter (Leinster/UCD) 34 caps
Rhys Ruddock (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 27 caps
James Ryan (Leinster/UCD) 33 caps
CJ Stander (Munster/Shannon) 48 caps
Josh van der Flier (Leinster/UCD) 30 caps

Returning to Provinces:
Bundee Aki (Connacht/Galwegians) 30 caps
Ryan Baird (Leinster/Dublin University) uncapped
Ross Byrne (Leinster/UCD) 12 caps
Craig Casey (Munster/Shannon) uncapped
Andrew Conway (Munster/Garryowen) 24 caps
Jack Conan (Leinster/Old Belvedere) 17 caps
Shane Daly (Munster/Cork Con) 1 cap
Ultan Dillane (Connacht/Corinthians) 18 caps
Chris Farrell (Munster/Young Munster) 14 caps
Dave Heffernan (Connacht/Buccaneers) 5 caps
Stuart McCloskey (Ulster/Bangor) 4 caps
Tom O’Toole (Ulster/Ballynahinch) uncapped

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Ireland squad update: A dozen players released back to their provinces

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